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Water was out a total of 5½ hours on Friday, Tuesday, officials say

JANESVILLE

Rock County Jail inmates went without running water for about 90 minutes Friday and four hours Tuesday because of a water main leak, jail Cmdr. Craig Strouse said.

Four hundred-plus inmates as well as staff members couldn’t flush toilets or wash their hands during those times.

Officials consulted with a doctor who oversees the jail medical program and made sure inmates had bottled water to drink, Strouse said.

Brent Sutherland, director of facilities management for the county, said a gasket failed on a valve on an 8-inch-diameter pipe on the sheriff’s office grounds, and water was bubbling up in the parking lot behind the jail.

DeGarmo Plumbing of Janesville was hired to fix the problem. After digging down to the leak, officials decided to wait until Tuesday to fix the problem, Sutherland said.

He said it was late in the day Friday, extra equipment was needed, and they could not guarantee the repair would be done in time for staff to prepare supper for inmates. He said officials worried that more time without water could lead to sanitary problems.

So water was turned on until early Tuesday morning, when workers cut out the bad valve and replaced it before breakfast, Sutherland said. Replacing the gasket was not an option.

Strouse said extra jailers were brought in when the water was shut off, in case a fire broke out with the sprinkler system not working and staff needed to evacuate inmates.

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